Survey says” looks at various rankings and scorecards judging economic trends while noting these grades are best seen as a mix of data and art.

Buzz: Black homeownership nationwide fell amid the pandemic era’s homebuying binge fueled by the government’s housing bailout.

Source: My trusty spreadsheet analyzed Census ownership data, comparing 2021’s fourth quarter U.S. rates with pre-pandemic trends of the first two decades of the 21st Century.

Top Line At the end of 2021, 43.1% of Black Americans lived in a home they owned — that’s a rate 5.3% lower than the already disappointing 45.5% pre-pandemic average. Or look at it this way, Black ownership is just 87% of this century’s high of 49.7% set in 2004’s fourth quarter.

Or look at it this way, Black ownership is just 87% of this century’s high of 49.7% set in 2004’s fourth quarter.  Details  Think of all the government help thrown at the homebuying business when the coronavirus hit the nation’s health and wealth.

Then consider all the chatter about young adults suddenly choosing to own instead of rent. Or owners seeking bigger residences farther from urban hubs. Plus, remember all the amazement expressed about how record-setting prices didn’t slow buying binges not seen since the … eh, bubble era of the mid-2000s.

Now note this: U.S. homeownership is now lower than what was seen in the two decades preceding COVID-19.  Yes, lower! At 2021’s end, 65.5% of Americans lived in homes they owned — a rate 1.6% lower than the average 66.6% pre-pandemic ownership rate. It’s also just 95% of the century’s high of 69.2% in 2004’s fourth quarter.

One number stands out to my eye: Blacks were the only racial group among the four tracked for all of this century to finish 2021 with an ownership rate below the 2000-2019 average.

White, non-Hispanic: 74.4% ownership — slightly above the 74.1% pre-pandemic average. It’s 98% of the 2000-19 high of 76.2% in 2004’s fourth quarter.

All other races, primarily Asian: 57.6% ownership — 2.6% above the 56.1% pre-pandemic average. It’s 95% of the 2000-19 high of 60.6% in 2006’s fourth quarter.

Any Hispanic: 48.4% ownership — 2.3% above the 47.3% pre-pandemic average. It’s 94% of the 2000-19 high of 50.1% in 2007’s fourth quarter.

Caveat  Ownership is also down across the board from elevated 2020 levels, but most experts — including Census analysts — say that year’s stats are unreliable due to survey challenges during lockdowns, etc.  Bottom Line  Many folks are uncomfortable thinking there’s unfairness in the housing market.

Let me simply note a growing racial gap …

(1) Black ownership rate was 66% of the national rate in 2021’s fourth quarter vs. 68% pre-pandemic average.

(2) Black ownership rate was 58% of White ownership at year’s end vs. 61.4% in 2000-2019.

The benefits of the pandemic era’s housing bailout — historically cheap mortgages, unprecedented financial support for mortgage markets, not to mention generous aid for owners with missed house payments — didn’t help everybody.

Written By Jonathan Lansner for The OC Register

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